I said a little while ago on Twitter, as I slowly made my way through this collection, that I wanted to put Mother Ghost between two slices of brioche and eat it. The stories are packed like sardines in oil, or stone-dry, air cured jamon. Tender and pinboned and unctuous or else small and salty on the tongue. I had to take my time with each, otherwise I felt the texts would stop speaking for themselves and the reading of them become more an act of consumption than, as it should be, an act of marking their fine intensities.
Several of the stories I had read before in other places, and these remain as good as ever, and happily can dwell with me: ‘Piano Hands’, ‘Horse Street’, ‘Water People’ and more. A few were knew, and it will take me a while to get to know them. Most immediately I was struck by ‘Soft Monsters’, a story of art and perception and :
The curator is hot. He’s wearing a nice suit. I can tell it’s a nice suit because it doesn’t make any noise when he walks. My suit sounds like a handful of grocery bags even when I’m standing still. There’s a breeze and my pants flap.
The curator asks me if I like art.
I suck on my cigarette. I have epilepsy. If I suck on my cigarette too many times, I’ll have a seizure. I suck on my cigarette again.
There is at times a deadpan quality that curiously both masks and draws out dark depths, gothic elements. The stories are full of smoke and mother-cruelty, porches and lakes and beaches and islands. Water and liquor mark and blur the edges. Action takes place on lines of demarcation between differing elements or in spaces that have been designed for constant change, like galleries. While sometimes the stories slam to an abrupt ending, it feel right for the style. Like a lid clacking closed on your fingers; you are not allowed to take away with what is inside so easily.
If I’ve relied on metaphors of the senses in this review even more than I do than normal, it’s in response to the slenderness of the stories and my desire to pick at them rather than let them be whole. A collection to return to, to sit with on a dusky night while the moths are out.